Carlos Zambrano, contracts, some Ryne Sandberg-related history and Carlos Silva's record are among the topics in this week's Cubs Inbox. E-mail your questions to [email protected], and please include your full name and hometown. Happy new year.
I heard a rumor that the Yankees have inquired about Big Z. Is this true, and who would the Yankees give up to get him?
-- Brad R., Bradley, Ill.
There have been reports out of New York with unnamed American League officials saying the Cubs are "dangling" Zambrano. General manager Jim Hendry would not address the reports, but the bottom line is that Big Z has a no-trade clause. His agent, Barry Praver, said Hendry has not approached him about waiving the no-trade provision and Zambrano is not interested in waiving it.
"I fully expect him to come back in 2010 and pitch like the old Big Z," Hendry said.
Zambrano has spent the majority of the offseason in Chicago. By the way, others on the Cubs with no-trade clauses include Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly, Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano. Aramis Ramirez has a no-trade clause in 2010.
With Soriano signed until '14, Fukudome until '11 and now Marlon Byrd until '12, when and how does the Cubs brass expect to see Tyler Colvin (and other outfield prospects) called up? Would Colvin switch to right after Fukudome's departure?
-- Matt Z., Madison, Wis.
It's a cliche, but players like Colvin will let the team know when they're ready for the big leagues, and when they are, the Cubs will find a spot. Colvin is behind after undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his elbow after the 2008 season. The other prospects, like last year's No. 1 pick Brett Jackson, are a few years away. Colvin can play left, center or right. In the Minors, the Cubs try to move the outfielders around. Colvin played right field the majority of the time at Double-A Tennessee last season.
What does the Cubs' lineup look like right now?
-- Drew H., Castalia, Iowa
Manager Lou Piniella will be asked that at the upcoming Cubs Convention. Here's one possibility: RF Fukudome, SS Ryan Theriot, 1B Lee, 3B Ramirez, CF Byrd, LF Soriano, C Geovany Soto, 2B Mike Fontenot or Jeff Baker.
What is going on with the payroll situation? I thought the Ricketts family was going to make a slight increase in payroll over '09? The '09 payroll was $134,809,000; the current payroll is $117,875,000.
-- Zak K., Altamont, Ill.
You sent this e-mail before the Cubs acquired Byrd, so I'm not sure what money you're including for 2010. Byrd's three-year, $15 million deal is backloaded, so he will be paid $3 million in 2010. The other money you haven't factored in is what the eight arbitration-eligible players will get. The list includes: Baker, Fontenot, Tom Gorzelanny, Angel Guzman, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Koyie Hill and Theriot. They'll all get raises. The '10 payroll will likely be close to $140 million.
Most fans are wondering why the Cubs aren't as active in the free-agent market as other teams. Obviously, it's because of the large contracts the team already has. Could you list some of those long player contracts and when they expire, including Hendry's contract?
-- Michael H., Green Bay, Wis.
Soriano is signed through '14 ($19 million each year), Ramirez is signed through '11 ($16.75 million in '10, $14.6 million in '11), and Zambrano is signed through '12 ($18.875 million in both '10 and '11; $19 million in '12). Fukudome is signed through '11 ($14 million in '10, $14.5 million in 2011). Ryan Dempster is signed through '12 ($13.5 million in '10; $14.5 million in '11; $14 million in 2012). Both Lee and Lilly are signed through '10 and each will make $13 million. Hendry is signed through '12.
I like the acquisition of Byrd, and it seems the starting lineup is set. However, the bench seems shallow in terms of position players. The Cubs have a ton of pitchers and little in terms of backups: Andres Blanco, Hill, Sam Fuld, and Micah Hoffpauir and either Baker or Fontenot. Unless Piniella is planning to use Marshall in left field or Zambrano's bat, what are his bench plans?
-- Andy G., Baltimore, Md.
There aren't many openings, especially if they carry 12 pitchers. The names you listed are the likely bench players unless there's a surprise this spring. Baker can play in the outfield if needed, Hoffpauir can back up at first and the corner outfield spots. The team will soon release a list of non-roster invitees for Spring Training who will contend, too.
How many people have played second base since Sandberg retired? How does that compare with how many played third since Ron Santo retired?
-- Mark G., Indianapolis
Sandberg retired for the second time after the 1997 season, so beginning in '98, there have been 37 different second basemen on the Cubs. That list includes Matt Stairs, Bill Mueller and Jason Maxwell, who each played one inning at second. There are six who have played at least 1,000 innings at second, including Eric Young, Mickey Morandini, Todd Walker, Mark Grudzielanek, Fontenot and Mark DeRosa.
Santo's last season with the Cubs was 1974, and the team has gone through 118 third basemen in 36 years. When Ramirez arrived in 2003, the post-Santo total was 98 from 1974-2003.
Is 37 high or low? Beginning in 1998, the Cubs have used 41 different first basemen, 44 third basemen, 27 shortstops, 72 left fielders, 62 right fielders, 47 center fielders, and 23 catchers. That's a lot of outfielders. Thanks to baseball historian Ed Hartig for his help (and double-checking my numbers).
I see that Carlos Silva has a better record in the National League. Do you think he's better against NL teams than American League?
-- Rick S., Tinley Park, Ill.
Silva was 8-1 with a 3.83 ERA in 130 games in the NL with the Phillies, compared to 52-63 with a 4.88 ERA in 165 games in the AL with the Twins and Mariners. But he was used in relief in the NL, making one start, and was a starter in the AL, so you can't really compare NL vs. AL. He's a sinkerball pitcher, and that should be a plus at Wrigley Field.
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